Many Connections. One U.

Haiti Poster Draws International Attention

on June 24, 2010 by Janet Edwards

An entry in the Haiti Poster Project, submitted last semester by Joshua Fajkowski, adjunct instructor, and his digital illustration students, was featured by The World Bank at a recent conference.

The Haiti Poster Project, launched three days after that country’s devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, is a worldwide design collaboration that benefits Doctors Without Borders. All participating designers were asked to submit 50 copies of their poster, which are now available for purchase at haitiposterproject.com.

“The project is a collaborative effort by the design community to help effect change through our work,” said Fajkowski, a 2003 graduate of Maryville’s graphic design program. “Signed and numbered, limited edition posters have been donated by designers and artists from around the world.”

Maryville’s student designers include Andrea Boekmann, Jordan Covert, Julianne Christopher, Kristin Goldsborough, Melissa McCormack, Caitlin Metz and Nicole Steinert.

“I stumbled on to the project’s website through a link in an article on a design forum online. I contacted the organizers and they were extremely enthusiastic about having us contribute,” Fajkowski said. “Before the semester started, I really wanted to find a way for my students to get some experience designing outside of the classroom. The Haiti Poster Project provided the perfect venue for that.”

Each student was responsible for designing one letter of the poster’s wording, which developed from preliminary sketches to a final computer illustration with the help of group brainstorming.

“My letter was I. For my design, I drew two hands holding on to each other,” Metz said. “My inspiration for this was simply people reaching out to others who are hurting and helping them. The holding of hands symbolizes friendship, trust, acceptance and the strength of two people united.”

Boekmann’s assignment was to develop the letter T.

“I did some research and found out that the people of Haiti were considering using bamboo to build their houses because it is stable, yet bendable, and can grow right there in Haiti,” she said. “So I wanted to create a letter that represents the thought and idea of rebuilding.”

The completed letters were then combined on the poster to create two separate, but unified, messages. When looking at just the letters depicted in red, the poster reads, “Help Save Haiti”; focusing on the complete design, the viewer gets the larger message, “Help Save Humanity.”

The design students said they have gained valuable knowledge from The Haiti Poster Project.

“I have learned that I can use my design skills to a great advantage for a wonderful cause to help those who are less fortunate than I am,” Boekmann said. “I’ve also learned that working in teams can be a very powerful tool in getting to the finished design. I know the poster would not have been as successful if I was given the task to do by myself.”

Because the design community worked together for a charitable purpose, Metz said, the project went far beyond the normal design experience.

“Working on this project was personal for me, it wasn’t just an exercise,” she said. “I wasn’t simply learning a new principle of design or new technique; I was designing with a purpose. It was a great feeling. When it was finished and I was signing my name to all the posters I was incredibly excited and proud.”

Fajkowski said the experience provided valuable lessons about design and how the industry can be a positive influence in service work.

“It really is easy to get caught up in the planning and creating aspect of the design process and forget the impact and power that the actual designs, and design community in general, are capable of,” Fajkowski said. “The students’ hard work and the resulting reactions to the finished product really helped to put that all in the proper perspective.”

The World Bank requested the poster specifically to represent its cause at a May conference that attracts about 4000 attendees.

Article by Sarah Kidwell

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